Bialik’s Classic Works Find New Life Online

The Hebraic Section at the Library of Congress recently digitized a rich collection of rare children’s books and periodicals in Hebrew and Yiddish (from 1900-1929), including many works by the great poet Ḥayyim Nahman Bialik. Ann Brener highlights one work in particular, Bialik’s children’s tale Ha-Tarn’golim v’ha-Shu’al, or The Chickens and the Fox.

Bialik is often called the “father of modern Hebrew poetry,” but he was that and much, much more: writer, editor, translator, publisher. He contributed stories and poems for children to Hebrew periodicals from Kiev to New York; he founded thriving Hebrew presses that published children’s books in Odessa, Berlin, and Tel Aviv. In addition to all this, Bialik was also a tireless redactor of the ancient Hebrew sources, eager to take the ancient Jewish literary treasures out of the Beit Midrash, so to speak, and make them available to Hebrew readers in general. It was this talent for redaction, together with his unparalleled gift for poetry, that Bialik brought to bear on his rhymed Hebrew tale Ha-Tarn’golim v’ha-Shu’al (The Chickens and the Fox), now a classic of Hebrew children’s literature.

For his story, Bialik turned to one of these old and largely forgotten Hebrew sources, Mishlei Shu’alim, a collection of fox fables written by Berekhiah ha-Nakdan, a Jewish scholar who lived in 12th-13th century France or England. Fox fables were a popular genre in his day, and scholars have noted that Berekhiah could have drawn his fables from any number of existing collections, including Aesop’s Fables, then circulating in various vernaculars, or the French fox fables written closer to his own time by Marie de France. Berekhiah did not so much make up his stories as render them in Hebrew for a Jewish audience.

Read more at Library of Congress

More about: Children's books, Hayyim Nahman Bialik, Modern Hebrew literature

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7